Exercise 4: Exploring Place

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 5: Developing Methods - A Sense of Time and Place

In project 4 I focused on my working space and desk as the location. I have decided to continue exploring ideas in this location as it is a place I want to make meaningful links to how I spend the time there and what I produce as a result of the time spent there. It is also interesting to me as I think when it comes to exploring places, my initial thoughts are of much bigger locations, so to narrow down and focus on a small space where I spend a lot of time gives me limits to work with. Also, I don’t own the home I currently live in, but I do own this desk and computer, which plays with the idea of a place being a space that means something to you.

Experiment 1 – Frottage

Froattage is a technique where you make rubbings to create impressions and lines relating to the surfaces. At first, I thought this would be a challenge as my desk is not that textured, so I wondered what I could create. However, as I started experimenting with different thicknesses of paper and a mixture of graphite pencils and soft pastels I realised there were some interesting textures after all.

The first three images are the keyboard which I use every day and have never really acknowledged what texture it can create. The keys are slightly raised which when rubbed with soft pastel on paper gives an interesting geometric shape. I really like how in some of the rubbing you get a sense of the 3D nature of the keys. I tried the white on black to continue the monochrome theme from project 4, and I like the way it turned out. However, the one that has given the best overall texture is my smaller keyboard which is done using blue soft pastel and thin everyday notepad paper.

As I was making the keyboard rubbings, I noticed the air vents on my laptop are actually very detailed and have a striking geometric texture. I sit at this desk every day and have never noticed just how aesthetic they are to look at. I’m glad I captured them using metallic graphite pencil on white paper as it really shows the pattern.

I then tried to find some other textures and wasn’t that successful as the overall desk is very flat and smooth. I was able to find some good line marking using the rubbing technique by concentrating on the edge of the desk and experimented with trying to capture a group of wires, the edge of my mug and papers on the desk.

I then recreated a life-size layout of my desk using A1 paper.

Experiment 2 – Macro Photos

This was a series of macro photos taken at different times whilst at work over a period of a few days. I then collaged them to try and recreate the objects in their relative places.

What I really like is the different perspectives, distances, and light and how they have changed over time. I find it interesting that I have focused on the keyboards.

I would like to fill the entire page with images. Even though my desk is white, I am sure it would change during the day in terms of light. It could be interesting to do a photo every hour for a day and see how it changes over time.

Experiment 3 – Text

Philips, esc, tab, caps lock, shift, ctrl, silent touch, backspace, enter, shift, insert, delete, print screen, scroll lock, pause, break, home, page up, end, page down, num lock, logi, pavilion, ryzen, radeon, vega graphics, samson

The word lock is the most common. Which is how I feel sometimes.

Experiment 4 – Sounds

This is an early idea and I am not quite sure where to go with it, but I like the idea of recording periods of time using a wave visualiser like audacity and creating something from that. You can clearly see the mouse clicks as well as a period of traffic noise.

A History of Workspaces

Lavett Ballard

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 5: Developing Methods - A Sense of Time and Place, Research & Reflection

Lavett Ballard is an American Artist, Art historian, Curator, and Author. Ballard considers her work as a re-envisioning of the narratives belonging to people of African descent.

The collaged imagery she uses explores women’s stories, reflecting social issues within a historical context. The photo collages are used with other mixed media layered onto pieces of wooden fences. The fences add another layer of meaning and connect to her roots in South America.

Ballard’s art has been featured on the cover of Time Magazine:

Ballard views her art as reimagined visual narratives of people of African descent. Her use of imagery reflects social issues affecting primarily Black Women’s stories within a historical context. She uses collaged photos adorned with paint, oil pastels and metallic foils.

References

Ballard, L. (2017). Lavett Ballard Bio. [online] lavettballardart. Available at: https://www.lavettbeart.com/bio.
http://www.uarts.edu. (n.d.). Alum Featured on TIME Magazine Cover | University of the Arts. [online] Available at: https://www.uarts.edu/lavett-ballard-time-magazine [Accessed 7 Jun. 2022].

Emmanuelle Waeckerlé

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 5: Developing Methods - A Sense of Time and Place, Research & Reflection

Emmanuelle Waeckerlé is an experimental musician and multidisciplinary artist. She produces text scores, performances and publications which explore the materiality of language and engage with the particularities of different places.

OCA website

Emmanuelle Waeckerlé was born in Morocco to French parents and later moved to London. Her work PRAELUDERE was prompted by the fact that in French, a ballad is both a song and a walk. She draws the parallel between writing and walking, using simultaneous acts of marking and reading space.

PRAELUDERE

Praeludere is a set of four verbal scores that can be activated inside or outside, sitting, standing or walking or alone with others, with or without an instrument. It is part of a body of work that explores the notion of the ballad as being somewhere between a walk and a song. Writing, drawing, seeing and walking are understood as simultaneous acts of marking and reading space.

References

Rule, D., Waeckerlé, E. and Evans, T. (2015). On Reading and Walking and Thinking… [online] research.uca.ac.uk. Available at: http://research.uca.ac.uk/3512/ [Accessed 7 Jun. 2022].
Waeckerlé, E. (2015). Praeludere. [online] research.uca.ac.uk. Available at: https://research.uca.ac.uk/4635/ [Accessed 7 Jun. 2022].
Waeckerlé, E. (2022). About – Emmanuelle Waeckerlé. [online] ewaeckerle. Available at: https://ewaeckerle.com/about [Accessed 10 May 2022].

Janet Cardiff

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 5: Developing Methods - A Sense of Time and Place, Research & Reflection

Janet Cardiff is a Canadian artist who works with immersive multimedia, sound and audio/video walks (Miller, 2022). She often collaborates with Georges Bures Miller on the video walks to create alternative realities for the audience who listen to (and view) the constructed narrative, layered with background sounds and directions.

I spent some time looking at the different walks on their website. I selected Thought Experiments in F# Minor, described as “A labyrinthine video walk that takes you inside and outside of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L.A”.


The piece is genuinely captivating. It is difficult to explain in words and is something people should experience for themselves. I was left questioning reality, what it means to watch something, and how time and place interact. There is a ghost-like quality to watching a video of someone watching a location where previous interactions took place. The impact is enormous on the audience.

The same place is used in the video, but there is previous footage of past events being shown at the same time as someone walking the tour. In addition, there are more fantastical elements, such as the cat conductor. The cat also links to the idea of reality in Schrodingers cat. What is real? Is video footage real? The people in the video are both alive and also not necessarily. An image or video always shows the past. We can then meet the person, the person has aged, changed, or in some cases, they may even have passed away, but the photo still exists.

Ideas for my Own Work

I find this piece very inspirational. I wonder if I could incorporate some time shifts in my own piece about mapping digital pieces. Superimposes two days of work on top of each other.

References
Miller, J.C. & G.B. (2022). Biography. [online] Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller. Available at: https://cardiffmiller.com/biography/ [Accessed 3 Apr 2022].

Reflect, Review, and Refine

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 5: Developing Methods - A Sense of Time and Place, Research & Reflection
  • What are the main areas or ideas for reflection from the feedback you received?
    • Something that stands out to me is how my tutor really liked the pieces I didn’t particularly think were strong. I experimented with taking photos with wires on my screen, and I wasn’t happy with how they turned out, but my tutor really thought they were powerful. This makes me want to be more experimental and take a few more risks. Post work that I perhaps don’t think is finished and get feedback on it.

      Creating any piece of work is a risk, and it exposes you to criticism, something nobody enjoys, but it is how we all learn and develop. It is something I definitely need to get better at. I could be braver with what I post here and open myself up for feedback more instead of waiting for a polished piece of work.
  • How will you develop and refine your work and ideas in response?
    • As mentioned, I want to be more creative and experimental. I need to get back into playing with ideas and not necessarily only post on here the ones that feel finished.

      One thing I could do a lot more of is using my sketchbook to develop ideas and show how I get to my finished pieces.

      Another aspect my tutor mentioned was to explain my thinking a little more.
  • Which sections of your work do you want to explore in more detail, and how might you do that?
    • I really want to explore this idea of the internet and time spent and now bring in place too. The internet is a place that perhaps doesn’t meet the conventional understanding of place, but we all curate our own little corners of the web. There isn’t a physical space but a digital space. How can I explore this?
  • What elements of your work start to reflect something about the place you chose to work in, and how might you build on that?
    • My work was based around my desk and where I work. How it is all digital and not something with a physical presence. Is this still a place?

A Reflection on Meaningful Locations

Coursework, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 5: Developing Methods - A Sense of Time and Place, Research & Reflection

Tim Cresswell’s book describes place as a “meaningful location”.

For me, this is a difficult concept as I have moved around a lot in my life and I struggle to make meaningful connections to a particular location.

I have always felt happier when travelling and exploring, maybe because I don’t have a strong connection to anywhere else.

Even at the moment, I have a sense of wanting to move again.

I think that I may find this unit difficult but it might also give me an opportunity to explore a sense of not belonging anywhere too.

‘Place an Introduction’ by Tim Cresswell

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 5: Developing Methods - A Sense of Time and Place

Place: An Introduction by Tim Cresswell is a geography textbook for students focusing on human geography. It looks at the everyday usage of the term ‘place’ and the debates and discussions around the definition.

This post will summarise my notes from reading the Introductory chapter.

Notes on Introduction: Defining Place

Place is one of the most important terms in geography and its study benefits from an interdisciplinary one.

Artists along with geographers grapple with the idea of place.

Not only artists, but place now has a price attached to it and is important to businesses. GIS (geographic information systems) map places and fuse with social media so our phone always knows where we are. Data from this is valuable. There are open-source maps so that corporations don’t have a monopoly on the production of place.

This virtual battle reflects longstanding struggles over place. Links to previous protest movements.

Place often has political elements.

Place is important in many aspects of life – food production, housing, holidays. Yet despite its importance, it is very difficult to define. It isn’t a specialised academic term, it is an everyday term that is familiar to us. However, even though we inherently seem to think we know what it means, it is both simple and complicated. It is different to a word like “territory” which is a specialised term.

Every day uses include:

  • “Would you like to come round to my place?” – indicates some kind of connection between a person and a building and a notion of privacy and belonging.
  • “Brisbane is a nice place” – a geographical location
  • “She put me in y place” – a sense of position in a hierarchy
  • “A place for everything and everything in its place” – an ordering of things

We often add possessions to spaces to turn a space into place.

We name spaces in the world to give them meaning. Coordinates on a map mean nothing, give it a name like a city and we get an image of what it is like.

The most straightforward definition – “a meaningful location”.

John Agnew has outlined three fundamental aspects of a place as a meaningful location.

  1. Location – they have fixed coordinates on the Earth’s surface.
  2. Locale – the material setting for social relations
  3. Sense of place. – subjective and emotional attachment

When humans invest some kind of meaning in a portion of space it becomes a place.

Goes beyond just landscape they are connections, they help us understand people.

Artists and Works Mentioned

  • Towards Re-Enchantment: Place and Its Meanings by Evans and Robson
  • Christian Marclay – installation in Gstaad Switzerland

Key Quotes

“place is perhaps the key term for interdisciplinary research in the arts, humanities and social sciences in the twenty-first century.”

“Place is a word that seems to speak for itself.”

“You discover the art through the place and the place through the art”

“Power of Place”

“transforming space into place”

Ideas

The GIS systems mentioned and how valuable this data is, links to my data collection in assignment 4. I wonder if I could incorporate some of this into a piece?

References

Cresswell, T 2014, Place: An Introduction, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, Hoboken. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [1 Apr 2022].

Place in Poetry

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 5: Developing Methods - A Sense of Time and Place

Here are three extracts which contemplate the theme of ‘place’ in different ways:

The Herefordshire Landscape by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Hills, vales, woods, netted in a silver mist,
Farm, granges, doubled up among the hills,
And cattle grazing in the watered vales,
And cottage-chimneys smoking from the woods,
And cottage-gardens smelling everywhere,
Confused with smell of orchards.

The Lost Land by Eavan Boland

I can see the shore of Dublin Bay.
Its rocky sweep and its granite pier.
Is this, I say
How they must have seen it,
Backing out on the mailboat at twilight,
Shadows falling
On everything they had to leave?
And would love forever?
And then
I imagine myself
At the landward rail of that boat
Searching for the last sight of a hand.
I see myself
On the underworld side of that water,
The darkness coming in fast,
Saying all the names I know for a lost land:
Ireland. Absence. Daughter.

Slough by John Betjeman

Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough! It isn’t fit for humans now,
There isn’t grass to graze a cow. Swarm over, Death!
Come, bombs and blow to smithereens Those air-conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans, Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Although each is about place and evoke a sens of place, they are on different levels.

The Herefordshire Landscape purely evokes a sense of place. It is atmospheric, full of visual language that evokes all the senses and gives you an idealistic view of the English countryside. It is peaceful, calm and allows you to picture yourself in the landscape living a carefree life. There are no politics in this world, it is celebrating the pure beauty of place in an escapism way.

Slough is much more political and thought-provoking and is a commentary on modern life. You get a real feeling of contempt for modernity from John Betjeman. It makes definite social comment about progress and place about how humanity with its modern interventions has made a place inhospitable. He actually wants bombs to “fall on Slough!” as “It isn’t fit for humans now”.

The Lost Land evokes a sense of place in relation to identity and exile. The poet is longing for Ireland “saying all the names I know for a lost land”. You get a feeling of desperation and loss from the poet, grief for a place and he is imagining himself looking at the shore of Dublin Bay.

I actually like all three poems in different ways. I love the pure escapism and naive joy in Browning’s poetry. It is a world I want to live in. I also like the thought-provoking nature of the second two poems. All three have given me more ideas to explore around Place.

Action Points

  • How can I explore the sensual nature of place?
  • Place is linked to politics and change – how can this be explored?
  • I would like to create a triptych of the three poems and the images they invoke.

What is Place?

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 5: Developing Methods - A Sense of Time and Place, Research & Reflection

Place is difficult to define. I decided to create a mind map with all the ideas I think about when I consider the word place. Place is home, it is linked to people and culture but there is also a sense of movement about it. Place never remains still. Just like time. There is constant change, boundaries change, people and things move in the place, time changes places like the seasons, climate, there is growth and shrinking.

I don’t think I am any clearer about what place is. Can we even define it?

Assignment 4 Feedback

Assignment 4 - Traces of Time, Assignments, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons)

Assignment 4 was the first real practical piece I did so I was pleased with the feedback I got. I had a video call with my tutor to discuss my work who is very impressed with my progress so far. I have produced a good range of creative experiments so far and am beginning to find my personal visual language. This I am pleased about as it is an area that was concerning me. It is always difficult producing something personal and getting feedback on it as it is something you have poured feeling into. I realise this is an area alongside my perfectionism that I struggle with as I have a fear of people not liking or understanding it, even being judgemental about it. I think all artists feel like this to some extent and it is about gaining confidence in yourself and your work to face criticism. Not everyone is always going to like or understand everything you produce and that is okay if it comes from a place of authenticity.

One area to work on is to continue building synergy between different elements of my practice in research and studio work. I think I am still a little too careful and could experiment more to create even better synergy and unique pieces.

It was interesting that my tutor picked out one photo as a highlight that I wasn’t too keen on when I originally created it. Again it should be a reason to not worry so much about what people think as they will have different opinions on what I do and different preferences so I shouldn’t be afraid to experiment.

My tutor also gave me a lot of links and suggestions to look at which I have summarised here:

Padlet